Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 19, Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 - Second Stage (resumed), to adjourn at 3 p.m. today if not previously concluded; and No. 4, Prison Development (Confirmation of Resolutions) Bill 2013 - Order for Second Stage, Second and Remaining Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 5.45 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn on the conclusion of Oral Questions; the Second and Remaining Stages of No. 4 shall be taken today and the following arrangements shall apply: the proceedings on the Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after two hours, the opening speeches of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case and Members may share their time, the speech of each other Member called upon, who may share their time, shall not exceed ten minutes, and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called on to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after one hour by one question which shall be put from the Chair, and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice and Equality; Topical Issues will be taken on the conclusion of No. 4, and the Order shall resume thereafter with Oral Questions; the Dáil will sit tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and adjourn not later than 1.30 p.m.; there will be no Order of Business within the meaning of Standing Order 26 and, accordingly, the business to be transacted shall be as follows: No. 2, Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Bill 2013 [Seanad] - Second and Remaining Stages, for which the following arrangements shall apply: the proceedings on Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after two hours, the opening speeches of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, and such Members may share their time, the speech of each other Member called upon, who may share their time, shall not exceed ten minutes, and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; the proceedings on Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after one hour by one question which shall be put from the Chair, and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice and Equality; and the Dáil will sit on Monday, 1 July 2013 at 11 a.m. and adjourn not later than 7 p.m.; there will be no Order of Business within the meaning of Standing Order 26 and, accordingly, the business to be transacted shall be as follows: No. 19, Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 - Second Stage (resumed), to adjourn at 7 p.m. if not previously concluded, and any divisions demanded on that day shall be taken immediately after the Order of Business on Tuesday, 2 July 2013.

There are five proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 5.45 p.m. agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 4, Second and Subsequent Stages of the Prison Development (Confirmation of Resolutions) Bill 2013, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Topical Issues agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with the sitting and business of the Dáil tomorrow agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with the sitting and business of the Dáil on Monday, 1 July 2013, agreed to? Agreed.

We do not oppose the Order of Business, but we are beginning to find that there is a lack of order to the business at the end of sessions. Legislation seems to be pushed through during Monday sittings, to which I am not objecting, but at other stages during the year we have a difficulty in keeping the House going. Would the Government be able to streamline the presentation of work to the House in a more structured way? This is just an observation. Regarding Dáil reform, practical reforms might be of assistance. Last year we had all-party agreement in the House on the survivors of symphysiotomy. Is any legislation required to address the outstanding issue for the people concerned whose lives were destroyed?

They have waited long enough.

They have waited many years. Is there a need for legislation to address the difficulties they have experienced?

On the first point, one of the problems is that some of the demands of the legislation, for example, the complexities of the banking resolution legislation and the insolvency services legislation, mean the timing of the flow of legislation has been difficult. It is matter for the Whips and if the Deputy cares to arrange a discussion with them, it is possible and desirable to engage in some forward planning for the next session.

On the survivors of symphysiotomy, Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin presented a Bill before the House. There are no proposals from the Minister on legislation, but it is not just of concern, it is also being actively examined and discussed by the Minister and his departmental officials.

The Minister is correct that Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin introduced a Bill which sought to lift the Statute of Limitations for the survivors of symphysiotomy. I ask her to encourage the Minister for Health to assist in the passage of that legislation. Outside that, there are broader redress issues.

I welcome the publication yesterday of Mr. Justice Quirke's recommendations for redress for the survivors of the Magdalen laundries. Will the Government commit to holding a full Dáil debate on the detail of that report and the shape of the proposed scheme of supports and redress for the women concerned? I have made an initial reading of the report. There are some strong points made in it, but there are also some very worrying elements such as the requirement that the women concerned sign a waiver and forgo the option to pursue the State or any of its agencies for future damages. Given the scale of this travesty and the length of time the women concerned have waited for an apology and recognition, it is very important that this House have a full opportunity to discuss, debate and consider Mr. Justice Quirke's recommendations.

I will mention the Deputy's concerns about the survivors of symphysiotomy to the Minister. Everybody in the House shares these concerns and the Minister and his officials are working on the issue. I pay tribute to the Magdalen women for their bravery and dignity. Mr. Justice Quirke's report is being studied and examined in detail by the women concerned and their supporters and advisers. The report sets out a series of options and it is a matter for the women concerned to have some time to reflect on and consider what they want to do. The line taken in the previous redress arrangements was only about lump sums, whereas Mr. Justice Quirke differs dramatically, recommending a two-track process, including lump sum payments, income support and continuing arrangements for the women concerned for the rest of their lives. These are very valuable proposals and the women concerned will wish to reflect on them, particularly given the fact that many of them are elderly. The proposals include specific medical service arrangements for enhanced medical card provision. These are very important and innovative proposals. Perhaps Sinn Féin might request at a Whips' meeting appropriate arrangements to debate the report in this House.

Does the Minister think we should have a debate?

It is matter for discussion with the Whips. First, the women concerned should have the opportunity to study the report which is very innovative and bears study and examination. In my experience of people who received redress under the previous arrangements whereby there was a single lump sum, very often the outcomes for them were not as valuable as they might have been if there had been the provision, as proposed in the Quirke report, of continuous services and financial support for the rest of their lives.

That is a valuable suggestion.

Although they will probably get no credit for it, the Cypriot people's protests over the banking crisis in their country have resulted in what has been called a revolutionary reversal of policy in Europe on how we deal with banking crises and the possibility now that senior bondholders rather than ordinary citizens would pay the price for such a resolution-----

Where is the Deputy going?

Cyprus; it is a large island.

Are we likely to see new legislation on foot of this announcement about a new way of dealing with banking crises in this country?

Is legislation promised?

On promised legislation, when will legislation be introduced to provide for the exchange of criminal records information with other EU member states and other states, with particular reference to discussions on banking or other crimes that might have implications for this jurisdiction and others? I refer to the criminal records (information systems) Bill and the criminal justice (corruption) Bill. I understand the heads of the first Bill have been approved but that the Bill has not been published. I am not certain of the status of the criminal justice (corruption) Bill.

We will find out for the Deputy.

Both Bills have a relevance in the present context and I would be grateful for their expedition.

The heads of both Bills have been cleared. The criminal records (information systems) Bill is expected later this year. A date has not been set for publication of the criminal justice (corruption) Bill.

I ask about the licensing of health care facilities Bill which is necessary to provide for a mandatory system of licensing of public and private health care facilities.

There is no date for publication as yet.

I understand the Spent Convictions Bill has passed all Stages in the Seanad. I acknowledge that much progress has been made but despite our best efforts here, thousands of people are emigrating to seek employment in foreign countries. Many are precluded from gaining employment overseas because of a conviction they hold, perhaps as a result of a minor indiscretion in their youth. When is the Bill expected back before this House?

It is currently on Report Stage in the Dáil.

There has been much public comment on the issue of advertising of alcohol and alcohol sponsorship in a sports setting. The Joint Committee on Transport and Communications is compiling a report on this issue. When does the Government intend to bring forward the sale of alcohol Bill which I hope will deal with some of the concerns expressed in society?

The Minister of State, Deputy Alex White, is working on an alcohol Bill which will be available later in the year. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, is also working on legislation to deal with alcohol. It is hoped this will be available by the end of the year.

The programme for Government commits the Government to addressing the plight of the survivors of thalidomide. We all join with the tributes to Mr. Justice Quirke and to the Government for the initiatives in addressing the plight of the Magdalen women. There are only 32 survivors of the thalidomide drug. On the previous occasion when we raised it in the House the Taoiseach indicated that the matter would be pursued by the Minister for Health. Will the Minister indicate if the Minister for Health has met with the survivors of thalidomide? If this is not the case, will the Minister inform the House if he intends to do so at an early date?

It is not strictly in order.

I understand there may be discussions ongoing but I cannot say anything more than that.

I compliment the publication of Mr. Justice Quirke's report which in my view is a very novel approach. I refer to a similar approach taken with regard to children profoundly damaged by State-administered vaccines. The Minister's Department was given responsibility to issue compensation to those families on foot of the report. It took a number of years for that report to be published and since its publication it has gathered dust. I ask the Minister and the Minister for Health to implement this report. These are very elderly parents of profoundly disabled children. They want a public acknowledgement that their children were damaged and that provision will be made for them in the future. This matter needs to be addressed urgently.

I will speak to the Minister for Health and I will revert to the Deputy.